Thursday, February 04, 2016

President Obama Speaks At Baltimore Mosque

Yesterday President Obama made his first visit to a mosque in the United States and gave a wide-ranging 45-minute address (full text) emphasizing both the contributions and concerns of the Muslim community in the United States.  Speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, he focused on the American tradition of religious liberty, dealt directly with the challenges posed to American society by groups such as al Quaeda and ISIL, and called on the American Muslim community "to show that it is possible to be faithful to Islam and to be part of a pluralistic society."  Near the end of his remarks, the President addressed himself explicitly to Muslim youth in the United States:
 In our lives, we all have many identities.  We are sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.  We’re classmates; Cub Scout troop members.  We’re followers of our faith.  We’re citizens of our country.  And today, there are voices in this world, particularly over the Internet, who are constantly claiming that you have to choose between your identities -- as a Muslim, for example, or an American.  Do not believe them.  If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States:  You fit in here -- right here.  (Applause.)  You’re right where you belong.  You’re part of America, too.  (Applause.)  You’re not Muslim or American.  You’re Muslim and American. (Applause.) 
Don’t grow cynical.  Don’t respond to ignorance by embracing a world view that suggests you must choose between your faith and your patriotism.  Don’t believe that you have to choose between your best impulses and somehow embrace a world view that pits us against each other -- or, even worse, glorifies violence.  Understand your power to bring about change.  Stay engaged in your community.  Help move our country forward -- your country forward.  (Applause.) 
Several hours ahead of the President's appearance in Baltimore, White House advisor Rumana Ahmed released an e-mail emphasizing the importance to her of the President's visit to the mosque.